Thursday, April 29, 2010

why am I doing this?

Yesterday I had to go to a local high school and talk to juniors and seniors about my job. Part of the presentation was telling them about your background. Your education, your interests - what made you tick when you were 17?

Seventeen. That was 10 years ago. Ugh. These students really looked like kids.

Anyway, I don't have the best story when it comes to how I ended up where I did. But it got me thinking about how far I've come.

I changed majors three times and eventually got a B.S. in a field I wasn't very interested in simply because I had enough credits to apply for the degree.

I thought I liked one major, I didn't. Tried another, failed again. Finally graduated with a degree I knew I couldn't actually use, simply to get DONE so that I could qualify to get a Master's.

I got a Master's because I knew my undergraduate degree was pretty useless, career-wise, and because my dad told me he thought I'd be good in this field.

That's where things started to turn around. I really enjoyed my Master's program. It was interesting. I understood. It was easy. The realization that it wasn't easy for others is how I started to understand that maybe I was actually just pretty good at it. Hard to swallow, for someone who always wants to be good, but never actually thinks they're good enough! My dad: he knows his stuff.

I defended my Master's thesis on a hot, sticky June day in an un-air-conditioned conference room. I passed without revisions. Best feeling ever. I was so done with school. Then I went to graduation in August and saw the doctoral graduates receiving their degrees from their advisers. All they did for us master's grads was call our names. The doctoral degree ceremony was so special, so personal. You know how a lot of people get teary-eyed at weddings? I got teary-eyed watching strangers have their fancy velvet hoods pinned on by their committee chairs. I guess it hit me where I live: in a masochistic part of my brain that cried "That could be you. That could be your silly-looking and impractical hood."

Aaaaand then I presented at a conference in October. People were obviously interested in my topic and knowledge, which surprised me. (Never feel like I'm good enough, remember?) People from my audience addressed me as 'Dr'. I had to correct them.

I applied for the Ph.D. program because I didn't want to have to correct people when they call me 'Dr.'

A talk with my adviser convinced me - he wanted me in his program. So less than a year after the "I'm DONE!" There I was, no longer done. That was 2 years ago.

Today, I filled out the application to take the comprehensive exams. These are exams you take after you've finished your coursework. You apply for them a semester in advance, so that means I'll take them in the fall. After I've passed them, I'll be allowed to officially work on my dissertation. This is a crazy big essay-format test, and I will be allowed to take it home. It's a really, really big deal (from what I hear). And the funny thing is? I'm not even nervous.

i've made it this far [13/365]

What I am is blown away. Ten years ago I was seventeen, trying to choose a college. Now: over 300 college credits and 80 classes under my belt. Two diplomas in my closet. Staring a huge test right in the face and saying "bring it."

Next year, I will walk across the stage and receive my diploma and hood from my adviser just as I had watched those other people do 4 years prior.

It will be special. It will be personal. It will be mine (oh yes, it will be mine, hah).

And I will be done.

I'll have been in school (with a one-semester break in the fall of 2007) for 24 years of my life -- 10 years of them post-high school. Ten years of school, after high school? Unimaginable at seventeen. But I'll have done it. I spend a lot of time bitching and moaning about how old I'm getting, not having accomplished as much in my life as I had wanted to by now. But the fact of the matter is: holy shit. How did I ever get this far? I may be living 20 miles from where I grew up, and I may not have any children yet, and I may have 'wasted' my twenties with my nose buried in books and my spare time nonexistent, but by the end of next year, I'll be a 28-year-old with a Ph.D.

That's pretty tight.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

this is what the dissertation looks like today

1: I think it needs to gain some clarity before I defend.

2: There better not be any points given for neat handwriting.

3: You would think that being able to spell "knowledge" correctly would be a prerequisite to being awarded a doctorate in an educational field. Sigh. That's what spell-check has done to me.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


At this point in the semester (the 11th week), I am working on 4 separate and very large projects for my various classes.

This would only be a minor big deal if I hadn't gone out of town for spring break (and did no homework whatsoever during that time). And I *also* went out of town last week, Monday thru Friday - got home after 2 this morning. I was at a conference for work, which was great, except that when I booked it I didn't realize that I'd be at it during what would have been a holiday from work [Good Friday]. So I had to work on a holiday and I don't get to make it up with a day off later because that's not how Human Resources works here. Woohoo. And I was up super late last night due to the flight, so any intelligent thought processes that occur today will be pretty much coincidental. And tomorrow is Easter, so several hours of it is going to be spent with family. We were supposed to host Easter at our house, but I pretty much had to say I couldn't do it. I just couldn't lose the WHOLE Sunday.

Monday means back to work, and Tuesday is when the due-dates start rolling in. Woohoo.

I am also in the middle of having [what was] an ill-fitting bridesmaid dress altered to a more acceptable fit. The wedding is in May, and so is the bachelorette party (which I am planning).

Our school's summer semester starts two days after spring finals ends? No break from school for us until July (but oh, what a break it will be: a honeymoon in Jamaica!).

Good news is, I'm losing weight (from stress and forgetting to eat, I assume). So I'll be bikini-ready (and bridesmaid dress-ready)!